Once upon a time, the global system allowed pharmaceutical companies to withhold patents on drugs, vaccines and treatments needed by the poorest of this earth to protect intellectual property rights, assets, and the R&D budgets of scientists in the newly prosperous technologically focussed economies of the north.
This was called progress. It was felt that allowing poorer countries and states to produce drugs, treatments and vaccines for their own people would undermine the system which offered young people incentive to work in labs instead of trying to be DJs.
There were an awful lot of DJs in those days.
& skateboards were plentiful too.
Many poorer countries in the south asked and pleaded for the right to make pills, ointments and tablets to give sick people and children with AIDS, Malaria, TB, diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough) measles, tuberculosis, polio, hepatitis and yellow fever.
But they were told there other ways to deal with the problem, they didn't need to and under no circumstances would be allowed to break patent law.
The good people of Ireland led by Bono, and those of England led by Geldof an those of the americas led by Bill Gates would raise enough cash and more importantly "awareness" on these issues.
The majority of drug patents were held by the USA along with the patents on genes, and of course the largest databases ever created.
& no-one thought this was ridiculous or a mistake in anyway, becuase if they had they would have said so at Gleneagles.
Because they were that sort.
Then along came the sick birds.
They overflew our continent causing a bit of "popular panic" and went largely un-noticed to Africa. Despite teh finest efforts of a new multi-million dollar industry did try and tag them all.
& they never came back.
They had done this global migratoty thing every year until the winter of 2005. But for some unknown reason they never came back.
Experts were called upon.
They concurred that the birds were especially designed to do "global migration", which is why they had little wings and a very dinky sense of direction and wind currents.
They also agreed that when they got to Africa, they would most probably hav done what they had always done. They'd breed. Breeding is animals way of mutating and evolving. It works for them, and they're very good at it. But it can get unhygienic.
The experts also agreed that many of the birds would get eaten. Because thats the sort of place Africa is, and a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
The peoples of Europe waited for the long months of Spring. How many of the lsot little birds and of course the new "baby birds" would come back?
But not a single one came.
How was this going to effect the price of a cup of tea?
Well its like this. You find bird flu on your farm because the Telly tells you to pay attention to sick birds. And immediately afterwards the forces of NATO and the UN will cull every flapping bird for a radius of 3 kilometres, or if you're getting technical the sick bird will already have been quarantined and be in that freezer bag quicker than you can say pandemic.
But Africa doesn't work that way.
It might come as a surprise to many, but in Africa, people don't cull their birds so easily.
Until of course the winter of 2005 / 2006 when Africa united and bludgeoned every single bird in sight, and China closed its borders.
An estimated 27 million children in the developing world still aren't immunized each year for Malaria, TB, diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough) measles, tuberculosis, polio, or offered treatments for hepatitis, AIDS and yellow fever.
in 2002, this resulted in 2.1 million deaths. WHO estimates that $8-$12 billion will be needed from both donor and developing country governments from 2005-15 to immunize children in the poorest countries with vaccines available today; more will be needed to introduce new vaccines now in the development pipeline.
Roche owns the patent on many thousands of drugs. One of which is "Tamiflu" or "oseltamivir", it sold out in Germany and Croatia less than a week ago, and is not on the local market shelves in Africa.
In Taiwan the state say:-
"We have tried our best to negotiate with Roche. It means we have shown our goodwill to Roche and we appreciate their patent. But to protect our people is the utmost important thing," Su Ih-jen, head of the clinical division at the National Health Research Institute, told Reuters.
"The research institute showed media a generic version of Tamiflu produced by its laboratories, which it said was 99 percent similar to Roche's drug."
"The World Health Organisation's director of epidemic and pandemic alert, Mike Ryan, told the Financial Times on Saturday it would cost billions of dollars to prepare the world fully for a potential pandemic with large-scale production of vaccines and other measures."
"The Bottom Line"
We will need lots of money for the birds when if they ever come back. Thank God the Africans culled them for us.